The assorted rantings of Daniel Sieradski

Between the vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers

Posted on February 3, 2015

I am a secularish Jewish lefty. I demand intellectual rigor, logical reasoning, scientific method, and also compassion for humanity and all living beings, inherent suspicion of the state and its institutions, the strict regulation and accountability of corporations, trust in nature, and care for the environment.

There is a middle between saying that government and big pharma are 1000% untrustworthy and poisoning our kids, and saying that the government and big pharma are 1000% trustworthy and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a complete kook.

One of the problems is that these conversations are so polarized that they become completely ideological and the issue being discussed, in the present case vaccines, is just a football thrown back and forth between two sides insisting they’re right no matter what kind of evidence contradicting their point of view is placed before them. Generally, people arrive at their conclusions — often because of their upbringing or social environment — and then seek out the facts which affirm their existing worldview. Personally, I strive to formulate my opinions based on all available evidence and credible points of view, while doing my best to stay true to the principles and ideals I value.

Letter to Kirsten Gillibrand re: Call to Cut P.A. Funding

Posted on January 18, 2015

Dear Senator Gillibrand,

I am a Jewish New Yorker writing to express my sincere displeasure with your decision to support suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority. While I appreciate the fact that you are the Senator of all New Yorkers and that that includes a sizable Jewish population that takes a hardline position on Israel, I believe that it is incredibly foolish and shortsighted to apply economic pressure to the P.A. to stop it from taking steps to achieve independence while a recalcitrant Israel continues to violate its own international commitments without consequence.

In November, Israel’s Knesset voted in favor of annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank—a unilateral action which, if undertaken, will eradicate any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state, as these settlements cut deep into the territory that would comprise a future Palestinian state. Israel also continues to expand these settlements unimpeded by the United States.

I understand that suspension of aid to the P.A. is intended to force them back to the negotiating table, yet when Israel takes unilateral actions such as those I’ve described, the U.S. makes no effort to censure Israel through a restriction of funds or arms transfers. Even State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki admitted in a June 2013 press briefing that, while it is U.S. policy to hold the P.A. accountable for deviating from the peace process, it is not U.S. policy to hold Israel accountable in the same way.

Overcoming My Addiction

Posted on January 2, 2015

Hello, my name is Daniel and I am an addict: A social media addict. For the last decade, I have had an unhealthy, obsessive relationship with social media from which I am now attempting to free myself. What began with the incessant checking of my blog for comments and web analytics for inbound links has become the incessant checking of Twitter and Facebook for notifications and new content about which to get worked up. Even now, without even consciously trying, I find myself hitting command-T and typing “face” before catching myself and hitting command-W.

Indeed, I’ve made various attempts in the near past to challenge my addiction, including deleting my Facebook account, removing all social media apps from my electronic devices, using tools like Focus to block access to social media during the work day, and even blocking the URLs of social media sites in my hosts file. I’m now using a combination of these methods to force myself to stop using these apps, which are specifically engineered to be addictive and to incentivize one’s constant return.

Social media has been a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, it has been instrumental to my success as a writer, an activist, a social entrepreneur, and a web technologist. Social media has not only helped me gain notoriety, to engage with a world far beyond the provinces of wherever I happen to be at the moment, and to stay in the know about current events, it has helped me make some of the best friends I’ve ever made, including former paramours. On the other hand, it has been an endless distraction from my family, my work, my creative pursuits, and simply being present with the world around me.